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updated: 6/20/2014 11:46 AM

Former Chain O' Lakes Fireworks president accused of theft surrenders to police

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  • Noreen Michael

      Noreen Michael

 
 

An Ingleside woman accused of theft from the Chain O' Lakes Fireworks committee has surrendered to police and was released on bail.

Noreen Michael, 47, former president and co-creator of the Chain O' Lakes Fireworks committee, turned herself in to the Lake County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday, authorities said. She posted 10 percent of her $10,000 bail in order to be released from jail.

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She is due back in court July 15.

Michael was charged on the week-old arrest warrant because police said she stole more than $500 from the not-for-profit organization that controls the Chain O' Lakes Fireworks on Fox Lake.

Fox Lake Police Lt. Mark Schindler said Friday that a board member from the organization came to police in April 2013 with a complaint that money had been illegally taken from the fireworks fund.

A police investigation alleged Michael stole about $8,700 between February 2011 and December 2012, Schindler said. The money was spent on personal expenses using a debit card issued to Michael, he added.

The arrest warrant stated Michael gained control of the fund's bank account and intentionally intended to deprive the fund of more than $500.

If found guilty of theft over $500, Michael could be sentenced to 2 to 5 years in prison. She could also be sentenced to probation.

Officials from the Chain O' Lakes Fireworks group would not comment individually on Michael or the investigation. However, a message was posted on the organization's Facebook page that states new financial safeguards are now in place. The committee also has posted financial statements on its website at keepthesparkalive.com.

Michael was applauded for stepping in and helping form Chain O' Lakes Fireworks in 2009 after organizers from previous shows stepped down. It's unclear when Michael left the organization.

The committee has established a goal to raise $25,000 for the fireworks show this year. So far, about $17,000 has been raised, according to the committee.

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